Tuesday, October 17, 2006

ACADIANA has it all

Last week, a large group of us sashayed down to ACADIANA (www.acadianarestautant.com) across from the new Convention Center which has now been open for just over a year. This was not our first visit, but in one year, Acadiana has improved from great to excellent, and we all enjoyed virtually ever bite and sip and moment. We started the evening with "J" Sparkling Brut from Sonoma and some came those wondrous warm Southern biscuits accompanied by Jalapeno Jelly & Cream Cheese Mix that just melts as you spread it on the hot bread- a heavenly start.

Our first white was a clean, tasty COTES du RHONE BLANC Chasse du Pape 2003 that worked well with our two amuses: A Lagniappe or CRABMEAT SARDOU with creamed spinach on the bottom, a huge lump of crabmeat and an intense-lemony cream hollandaise on top that matched the citrus of the wine to a tee. A DEEP FRIED OYSTER on CRAWFISH MAQUE CHOUX with CHoux Pea Caviar came next and the oyster was fried to perfection with the creamed corn, tomato, red onion mixture below and a smattering of the American Bowfish Caviar on top for a bit of flavor.

It is extremely hard to choose dishes at Acadiana, so I opted for the TRIO OF SOUPS allowing me to taste all three on the menu. The SMOKED CHICKEN & ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE was the spiciest, the ROASTED SWEET CORN & BLUE CRAB SOUP was the creamiest, but the CLASSIC TURTLE with Dry Sherry was the tops with a slight spiciness and tons of intense flavor. Around the table we heard raves about the FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, signature TRIO of DEVILED EGGS, CHARBROILED OYSTERS, FOIE GRAS with Mayhaw Jelly that was so simple and perfect it was masterful, and the DUO of "PIES" featuring Natchitoches Meat Pie with Black Pepper Buttermilk Dipping Sauce and the LOUISIANA CRAWFISH PIES. This latter dish is so huge with three humongous fried pies that one must ask for a doggie bag or share them.

We brought some wines from home and opened a magnum of MARKHAM 1994 MERLOT from NAPA that was still drinking smoothly, but the magnum of MINER CLUB M ZINFANDEL 2001 from Napa was a treat with a slight pepper taste and tons of just smooooooth at 14% alcohol, it was amazing.

The entrees arrived after much camaraderie and schmoozing, and again, I don't recall anyone having a single complaint. Many of us chose the excellent PAN CRISPED ROASTED DUCK recommended by our excellent server Chuck. It sat on a bed of DIRTY RICE & COLLARD GREENS with Bacon in a Cane Syrup Pepper Jelly Glaze that was perfect and not spicy at all. Each portion was a half a duck and we had lots of doggie bags (Sam adored the leftovers!). The signature CRAWFISH ETOUFEE and award winning (USA Today top 25 dishes) New Orleans BARBEQUE STYLE SHRIMP were also hits. I always adore the "GRILLADES & GRITS" which are veal medallions on Creamy Japaleno Grits with Wild Mushroom Pan Gravy. The crabcakes and filets also disappeared from all the plates. We ordered several side dishes to share, but I think many of us ignored the JAMBALAYA RISOTTO, JALAPENO CHEESE GRITS and CREOLE CREAMED SPINACH.

Desserts again became a difficult choice as Pastry Chef DAVID GUAS menu was presented. I went wild over the PEANUT BUTTER CREME BRULEE, tasted the superb WARM BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING and the BOURBON PECAN & CHOCOLATE CHIP Tart. The BEIGNETS were vastly improved over our previous visit, even the sorbet was superb. We sipped (we brought it) a decent DOMAINE CASTERA 2000 Cuvee Privelege Jurancon from France that actually had 14% alcohol as well, but was quite mild in the sweetness factor, and then munched of those superb mignardises from Chef Guas that always come at the end of any meal at Acadiana or its sister restaurants DC Coast, Ten Penh or Ceiba. They included STRAWBERRY TAFFY, HEAVENLY HASH, Pate a FRUIT and the mandatory PRALINES (Sam loved these as well the next day!). If you can't get to Louisiana, it's nice to know that its food is well done here in DC at Acadiana!